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High Society

Kings Theatre, Glasgow
3 stars
Cole Porter’s major talent may have lain in the effortless fizz of his song-writing, but, boy, did he know how to party. Who better then than to transpose Philip Barry’s play The Philadelphia Story, a glossy tale of love among the idle rich already immortalised onscreen, into an equally elegant musical cocktail.

Subsequently readapted for the Broadway stage, no amount of sprayed-on glitz and shoehorned-in celebrity will ever quite match up to the blazing colours of the big-screen. As this latest commercial tour proves, however, for audiences hoping to recapture the airbrushed languor of the original, it remains a safe-bet staple, no matter how much overuse has blunted its decadent edge. Ian Talbot’s bright, brisk if utterly danger-free production has the added disadvantage of losing its original arena of London’s Open Air Theatre in Regents Park.

Even so, as Isla Carter’s well-heeled and occasionally too plummy society gal on the rebound Tracy Lord lives it up on the eve of her wedding to an uptight rough diamond, Talbot and choreographer Gillian Gregory give it a game, utterly uncynical whirl, with not a jot of off-putting smugness in sight. Preyed on by a pair of glamour-chasing hacks and eventually wooed off the bottle by yacht-owning former beau CK Dexter Haven, Tracy’s world is a proto OC for Hello magazine readers.

If as aging groper Uncle Willie Wayne Sleep comes on like a demented penguin with St Vitus jazz hands, all is redeemed by tunes of the calibre of Who Wants To Be A millionaire and an oddly thrown away Well Did You Ever? This society may be high, but it’s never quite mighty enough.

The Herald, February 21st 2008

ends

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